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Sometimes when you are faced with preparing meals every day, the mind grinds to a halt and you need some incentive. First, every meal needs some rounding off, and that's where bread, biscuits and muffins come into play. They are easy, cheap and can be jazzed up with cheese, nuts, raisins, dried fruit, a dollop of jam or jelly, chocolate chips etc. They start with the basics: eggs, milk and flour. Popovers are a show stopper at dinner and they are also made with eggs, milk and flour, and raise up to glorious proportions. Potatoes are a good meal stretcher, either baked and stuffed, or fried with onions and garlic or mashed and whipped with some cooked carrots added. These are colorful, and again, not a budget breaker.

A main course can be meatloaf with two hardboiled eggs inside or served with a tomato sauce, homemade, with spices!You can make them round or long or in muffin cups, which are very nice. A potroast is very down-homey, with potatoes and carrots cooked with it, and you can uually find these on sale. Chicken is a must, for all the ways it can be cooked: with noodles and gravy for a wonderful casserole or the traditional fried. Chicken can be served with an Italian flavor or as chicken soup served with dumplings (again milk, flour and eggs). Once in a while, splurge with steak, but maybe round steak, which, if cooked slowly, will be fit for a king. In some cases, if you make the gravy from the drippings in the pan after browning, you can have gravy and potatoes. Vegetables are good, fresh or frozen, and served with a sauce or just butter and salt and papper. Always remember to serve the best coffee or tea; don't scrimp with these. It's also good at times to have a stick of real butter around. The old standby, tuna casserole, can be dolled up with cheese crackers and white sauce and served with good dill pickles and a bread of some kind. Hot dogs can be great, with a slice of cheese inside, or wrapped in canned crescent rolls with a side of chili. On a cold winter night, put three or four cans of soup together and serve in a big toureen. Be creative and choose different soups.

Desserts are a snap. Canned fruit is great served really chilled or warm spiced pears. You can also whip up a chocolate cake for a real pleaser, with whipped cream and nuts, no frosting. You will realize after a while that it doesn't take a fortune to fix food that is good and attractive.